Tonight's Wigle release is barrel-aged 'ginever'

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

When the clan who launched Wigle Whiskey were doing their research into Pittsburgh's illustrious alcohol-related history, they found evidence of gin-making going far back into the 1800s.

"We found some recipes for Holland-style gin made from rye whiskey," says Alex Grelli, a co-owner and distiller and wearer-of-many-hats at the family-run business.

So trying their hands at this new-old spirit was a natural fit. They call it "ginever" -- a twist on the Dutch spelling of genever and a hint at other differences -- and launched last year.

But they also decided to age some of it in oak barrels -- to give it "a warmer body and fuller mouthfeel," Mr. Grelli says. "Something interesting and complex enough to be enjoyed by itself -- smooth and not overwhelming."

At a "release party" tonight, they'll introduce Pittsburghers to this barrel-aged ginever.

Since their sleek space at 2401 Smallman St. holds about 75 people, they've scheduled events at 6 and 8 p.m.

With a limited batch of only 200 bottles, he and his colleagues also are working with local bartenders to invent, or re-invent, cocktails "with some of those funky flavors."

They pronounce it JIN-uhver, by the way, as Americans tend to do; Europeans say "jen-EAV-er." And Wigle is pronounced as if it had two g's (the name taken from an early instigator of the 1790s Whiskey Rebellion).

Wigle's emphasis is on organic, locally sourced grains -- a true Pennsylvania product. And since "there aren't really any malting facilities around here, we couldn't get these [local] grains malted," Mr. Grelli explained.

The ginever does contain some "conventional malted rye and wheat" from a main supplier to distilleries and breweries around the country, but it's a small proportion, making the spirit similar to a "jonge," or new-style Dutch genever.

While their un-aged ginever (at 47 percent alcohol by volume) has a powerful juniper-berry flavor, Wigle distillers wanted to see if barrel-aging would impart "an oak undertone to complement the botanical flavorings without overwhelming them -- a warmer body and fuller mouthfeel."

They've found that barrels made of white ash "give our whiskey a very silky mouthfeel," and are curious to find whether oak does the same thing for gin. I am, too.

Tickets ($25) and more information are available at

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here